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Title: Revitalizing the Chemical Engineering Senior Design Experience: Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and a Flipped Classroom Experience
Publisher: ASEE
Description: Includes, the paper and presentation that were presented at the 2015 ASEE conferenece;Graduates in chemical engineering pursue a wide variety of careers and, in today’s business environment, technical proficiency is required but no longer sufficient to ensure success. Well developed problem-solving skills and the ability to describe, convey, and sell those solutions to upper management is a must. The pace of business has also increased – higher productivity, shorter design turns, and global competition mean that successful engineers must be self-starters, seek out opportunities for improvements, and have an entrepreneurial mindset. Our current capstone design experience fails to fully prepare our graduates for these challenges. Currently, the course focuses on technical design skills, with light coverage of actual problem solving and design strategies or heuristics. As the first truly comprehensive chemical engineering course, the current content is a blend of a review of principles and some concepts of integration of skills. It is still delivered in a lecture-driven, teacher-centered format, and the communications component is heavily reliant on rather lengthy written reports. Our student teams do benefit from being mentored by program alumni working in industry, which provides an element of exposure to the real world, but overall the course may be summarized as a bit of creative effort followed by a great deal of computation and technical writing. Therefore, we revitalized the course with the goal to ● focus more heavily on actual problem solving and design skills, ● give students more practice and experience applying these skills with rapid feedback, ● involve the students directly in problem generation and selection, and ● shift the communications focus towards concise, business-oriented written and oral reporting. This redesign aimed to give students more input into the projects they work on and more empowerment in their own learning, and provide an opportunity for dedicating significant classroom time to active learning and peer-to-peer evaluation. In pursuing these overall goals, we also developed better tools for differentiating individualized student assessment, separate from team-based assessments, and are currently assessing any demonstrable improvement in addressing individual course outcomes as identified by ABET. This paper describes our approach to ● develop the learning modules to deliver technical content to students on-demand, outside the classroom ● create in-class activities to give students practice using creative problem-solving strategies, ● redesign the problem development process to make it student-driven by engaging and empowering students to define and select a worthwhile problem, and ● develop assessment tools to evaluate the new course design’s impact on student skills, as compared to the traditional approach.
Other Identifiers: 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24683
2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Type Of Material: Article
Appears in Collections:Chemical Engineering (ChE)

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